On Birthdays {And Numbering Our Days}

by Andrea Kolber


Today I turn 34, which feels ridiculous, really. Every year I say to my husband, “I can’t believe it’s my birthday again!” And every year he says with a little smile, “Yep, it really snuck up on us.”

It didn’t actually though, because usually I’ve been talking about it for a bit. Not in a selfish way, I hope. But more in a I can’t believe time is passing kind of way.

It reminds me of this verse:

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12 NIV).

This is where I suspect my wonder at another birthday comes from—attempting to number my days. It's in doing this that we often experience deep gratitude. It's only when we pause to survey what is right in front of us that we are able to see it clearly.

I haven’t always been great at this practice, if I’m honest. Even now in the midst of some long nights and days, I'm tempted to throw out all I’ve learned. I write these words with my 11 week old strapped to my chest and most days I can connect to the gift he is. And yet in my rush to be productive or to feel significant I can miss out on seeing it too. I can forget, so easily, how we longed to meet him. I can miss out on his tiny full lips and his blossoming personality.

And so I sit with this, and I number my days. I realize that he will only be this little for so long.

I watch my T girl, and I can feel my heart literally hurt as I see her body start to become long and lean, as she begins to throw off the form of her young days and replace it with the touch of the woman she’ll become. Just last night she lost her first tooth, and my mama heart almost wept at the milestones that are coming faster and faster. Now at night when I go in, briefly, to check on her, I make myself memorize her small face so I don’t forget; and I number my days with her.

I see my husband and the type of partner he is, and I feel grateful. What an honor to watch him be the father I ached for. And here he is, giving this deep connectedness to our kiddos. Sometimes I feel frustrated that we don’t get more time to ourselves. After hours of soothing small bodies and crying tinies, I want to just be with him sometimes. And certainly we try for it, but these are the years of interruptions by small people who need us. But this, too, is temporal.

Together, we are learning to number our days. Because I’m confident sometime I’ll sit at the kitchen counter aching to be interrupted by my kiddos, but they'll likely be busy building the life they're meant for. 

When I sit with the reality of 34 years on this earth and the hope for many more (although, we’re never guaranteed anything) the knowledge humbles me. What a tiny drop in the scheme of it all. And still, it’s my drop.

It causes me to ask these kinds of questions:

Am I satisfied with how I’ve lived my life thus far? What would I change? Am I loving my people well? Does my life point to Jesus?

These are the questions that rattle around in my brain, but I say again: teach me to number my days, Lord.

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Here’s to 34, folks. 

Aundi